When considering the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-term hearing health is pretty low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And while we don’t think that your ability to hear in the future should govern your career choice, we do think you should be conscious of the risk—so that you can utilize proper hearing protection and follow the best practices to maintain your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the US. Twenty-two million people are exposed to unsafe noise levels at work, and an estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a modest concern; the personal and social consequences are significant.
If you decide to follow one of the following eight career paths—or presently work in one—take additional precaution to take care of your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Almost all firearms can create 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is a great deal above the safety limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to produce instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers to hours of continuously damaging noise. That explains why research has demonstrated that musicians are four times more likely to acquire noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most regularly documented work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing devices can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – As with manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach hazardous decibel levels. A power saw alone can attain 110 dB.
5. Aviation – A jet take-off at 25 meters registers at approximately 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but aircraft pilots and airport workers should protect against the noise.
6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire engine sirens can emit decibel levels of over 130. In fact, a group of firefighters has recently taken legal action against a siren manufacturer after experiencing hearing loss on the job.
7. Farming – Some tractors and farming machinery can produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine breaks from the noise, and to wear hearing protection.
8. Racing – The noise of a single race car can reach over 120 decibels, and a race in full action can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, sustained exposure to any sound above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume career, take these three safety measures (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
- Take occasional rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (especially # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choosing without having to forfeit your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.